Parental Accountability in School Shootings?

The Center for Regulatory Effectiveness (CRE) has followed the regulatory implications of school shootings for years. In a nutshell our attention has been given to the corrective actions recommended or implemented after each tragedy. The common remedy is more regulation of our schools, ranging from hiring extra guards to installing metal detectors.

The question we raise is what alternatives are there to additional regulation, such as, holding parents accountable for the actions of their children?

CRE has written  on this topic for at least four years. At the onset it should be noted that we are not suggesting that each and every parent whose child commits a tragic act is guilty but instead should be subject to a legal inquiry. This position is based upon our observation that no group is more effective at policing the school shooters  than are their parents. The reluctance of those parents who have not lost a child to publicly assume this awesome responsibility  stems in part from the observation that  it is easier to pass the buck to the Congress, school administrators and the police instead of fessing up that notwithstanding the demands of two wage earners in a family that the parents–not the State–have the primary responsibility  for the upbringing of their children.

The aforementioned discussion highlights the importance of  differentiating between parents who have lost a child and those who have not. The former might welcome an opportunity to be engaged in developing an expost program for parental oversight thereby providing them with an immediate route to relief and therefore alleviating their need to await problematic action at either the federal or state level: on the other hand parents who have not lost a child have historically taken no public position on this issue possibly because they feel “for the grace of God, there go I”.

                      Major News Organization Have Covered Parental Accountability In Detail

ABC News initiated a discussion forum immediately after the  horrible event in Michigan. There were in excess of 1800 comments. The CRE post was ranked 1st for content which is available on You Tube. which is available by scrolling down the You Tube post until “Jim Tozzi” appears on the left hand side of the page.

You will note that the CRE post received only a handful of replies; no one including federal, state and local education   officials, the clergy or law enforcement officials wants to address parental accountability in these horrible events. If we understood the answer to the question  set forth in the title to this post  we might understand why these tragedies continue; after all, there is a helluva more parents than there are cops!

The December 4, 2021 Edition of the Washington Post in an article titledParents Charged in Mich. Shooting [ Karin Brulliard, Kim Bellware, Meryl Kornfield and John Woodrow Cox] state:

..if children as young as 6 did not have access to guns, well more half of the country’s school shootings since 1999 would never have happened, the Post found.

NBC news concludes:

Maybe heightened parental responsibility standards is a solution that both sides of the gun debate can get behind. We can provide schools with security plans and active shooter drills, but making more parents criminally responsible could be a powerful preventative fix.

The headline to the aforementioned article is as follows:

Crumbley parents arrested in Michigan may start school shooting legal trend

 CRE’s repeated attempts to have the US Department of Education  call facts such as those set forth above to parents through the issuance of brochures resulted in a dismal failure.

It is fortunate that CRE has access to some of the best legal minds in the country. They advise that the initiation of the legal actions needed to implement the positions set forth herein regarding school shootings might be inconsistent with existing tort doctrine.

Consequently we believe that the actions outlined in the Common Law Initiative should be initiated at the earliest possible date. In a like manner a number of our readers suggest that common law standing doctrine interferes with taking timely action on climate change; still another reason for moving judiciously on the Common Law Initiative.

 Why wait for Congressional action when state and local governments can take immediate actions to implement the recommendations set forth herein?

The bottom line is that our educational institutions, as well as law enforcement organizations, state and local governments and members of the general public are governed, to a substantial degree, by graduates of the Kumbaya School of Management. When the aforementioned alumni  must make a politically unpopular decision,  such as holding their neighbors, friends and fellow parents responsible for the actions of their children, they get into a hot tub, hold hands and sing Kumbaya.

                             Leading Components of a  Student Protection Program

It is obvious that the current stalemate over how to address school shootings is providing only a minimal solution to the problem; there is no single action that can solve the problem at hand.  We are cognizant of the fact that “Parental Accountability” is only one component of the overall solution. Other components include:

  • Mental Health Programs
  • Police Protection
  • Family Counseling
  • State and Local Government Educational Programs    +  Parental Accountability
  • Others TBD
The implementation of the aforementioned strategy is very straight forward and does not involve  the Congress.

 The state agencies who oversee public schools would issue draft guidance for consideration by each school district. The guidance would set forth the responsibilities of the parent and would also emphasize that they  are subject to  the appropriate legal authorities if is demonstrated that they were negligent in taking the necessary actions to protect school age children from damaging activities of their children.

The above information would be accompanied by highlighting sources of mental health counseling.


                    Subsequent Publications Which Provide A Fulcrum For Parental Accountability 

  CNN News Network In  response to the May 2022 school shooting in Texas, CRE made comments to a Discussion Forum hosted by CNN. As was the case with the aforementioned ABC News Discussion Forum, the CRE comments were ranked at the top of the list. As of 05/26/2022 there are in excess of 11,000 comments, a number of which have had received in excess of 50 replies.  The CRE post has not received a single reply. Each of our readers can come to their own conclusion as to the meaning and relevance of the aforementioned statistic but at a minimum  it appears that the public, whether on the “right” or “left”, has no stomach for addressing parental accountability in school shootings whether or not they agree with it–a definite food for thought prior to implementing supposed corrective actions which are long on form but short on substance.

Christian Science Monitor“How charging parents in a school shootings could change the conversation.”
New York Times: “What Students Are Saying About the Parents’ Role in a Recent School Shooting,
NBC News:  “Parents of school shooters are rarely charged.”

Washington Post; “Now, after a deadly school shooting in Kentucky, a prosecutor must decide: Should the parent who owned the weapon be charged?”

 New York Times“….few of the proposals under discussion would have made much of a difference.”

Washington Post  “..start taking action on multiple fronts, at once.

Washington Post   “All of them coming in, they are coming in as illegals, they can have guns. And what are we supposed to do? Throw rocks at them?

New York Times:  “The Simplest Responses to School Shootings Will Be the Best”

Center for Regulatory Effectiveness:   CRE Public Policy Projects and response to media inquires.

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